Stella McCartney Elevates Clean Beauty With Her New Skincare Line

Celia ShatzmanSenior Contributor
I cover fashion, beauty and grooming.

STELLA MCCARTNEY talks about the beauty line for WSJ. Magazine

Sustainability in fashion just wouldn’t be the same without Stella McCartney. Since the launch of her eponymous line, she’s pushed the industry forward with her embrace of choosing synthetic materials over leather and feathers and using organic cotton. Now she’s about to do the same for the beauty world with the debut of Stella by Stella McCartney, her new skincare line in partnership with LVMH. Since it’s all about minimalism in every sense, the line is comprised of three refillable products to cover the essentials: Reset Cleanser, Alter-Care Serum and Restore Cream. McCartney shares in an email interview how Scotland inspired the collection and why what’s good for the planet is good for our skin.

Celia Shatzman: Why did you want to launch a skincare line?
Stella McCartney: Skincare has always been a passion of mine. I launched my first skincare line back in 2006, and to be honest, it was almost too ahead of its time. It had to be pulled due to regulatory challenges in the U.S. with the organic labelling, which was pretty heartbreaking at the time. Since then, I’ve always wanted to re-enter the world of beauty. When I started this project a few years ago, I knew change in the industry was needed—it was my hope to create an alternative luxury skincare range that I couldn’t find in the marketplace.

Similarly to my vision for my fashion house, my aim was to find another way of creating a skincare range—a way that was better for both people and the planet. Partnering with LVMH provided me with the opportunity and the support network to make my vision a reality. I was able to create a range that works in harmony with nature without compromising on efficacy.

Shatzman: How is Stella by Stella McCartney different from other eco-conscious beauty brands?
McCartney: I love innovating and finding alternative ways of creating that don’t harm animals and reduces the impact on the planet and this commitment really guided the creation of my skincare range. The ambition behind Stella skincare was to create a responsible alternative to luxury skincare that cares for ourselves and Mother Earth equally.

I wanted to create desirable products that were effective and reflect my values and commitment to living in harmony with nature. I’m proud that the ingredients in the formulas are 99% natural origin ingredients. Our products promote long-term skin beauty and vitality, what we call Skin Sustainability. It supports skin’s regeneration and protection functions. I also didn’t want to compromise on results. Our clinical results are really impressive, and I wouldn’t use anything else on my skin now.

Although there are many established skincare brands, there are new advancements in the industry and there’s still a lot that can be further improved. For example, a new learning for me is that the one of the biggest impacts of a luxury cosmetic product is its packaging. My aim was to reinvent refills, which I’ve done through the creation of reusable bottles made from recycled glass and super-light and soft refills that are obtained from certified renewable sources and are recyclable. If you refill once, you lower your impact on climate change by a third, if you refill twice it’s by half and you can also use the refill on its own, reducing the impact by two-thirds.

Shatzman: What is your personal skincare and beauty routine?
McCartney: As a working mother of four, I always look for products that are multi-functional and simple. I don’t have time to apply a myriad of different products. When creating this range, I looked to mirror my own routine around essentials. Each product works hard for your skin, but the formulas and use of ingredients are sourced responsibly to ensure they don’t strip the planet of its resources.

Within the range I have a 2-in-1 cleanser that melts away makeup and also cleanses the skin of impurities. A high-performance serum that totally transformed my skin, I honestly was so impressed by the results that I don’t even need to use an eye cream now. My third product is a lightweight, restorative moisturizer with the most amazing texture. If you’re like me and hate anything greasy but still need that moisture surge, then this is for you.

Shatzman: What is your beauty philosophy?
McCartney: I really believe in our Alter-Care philosophy, which centers around creating a responsible alternative to luxury skincare and caring for ourselves and Mother Earth equally. Our skin is very good at looking after itself. It has a built-in eco-system, just like nature does. I believe there is a need to simplify our routines—to pare it down to the essentials.

Each of our products has been formulated to work in harmony with this eco-system, supporting its key functions of regeneration and protection, and ensuring skin’s sustainability. Our collection takes a longer-term view, focusing on health and vitality through the years as opposed to the short-term. All of these principles have informed my own beauty philosophy.

Shatzman: How did you choose the ingredients?
McCartney: We really wanted to make sure our products were as harmonious with your skin and the planet as possible, and we worked tirelessly over the past three years to make this possible. I’m proud that the ingredients in the formulas are natural-origin ingredients. The formulas center around natural-origin actives to deliver clinically proven results:

· Organic Rock Samphire offers a retinol-like action. It is rich in unsaturated and saturated fatty acids and phytosterols to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.

· Biotechnological Lingonberry Extract is a superfood skincare ingredient with polyphenols to help restore an even complexion and support elasticity and visible firmness.

· Wild Organic Birch Sap helps to hydrate and restore visible firmness with minerals, sugars and vitamin C.

· Wild Harvested Dulse Algae Extract is rich in polysaccharides and helps to reduce the appearance of dark circles and restore an even skin tone.

· Olive squalane is naturally derived and helps to reinforce the skin’s protective barrier. It’s made from olive.

· Natural-origin hyaluronic acid is a renowned hydrator that locks in moisture for smoother, plumper-looking skin. Ours is made from wheat.

· Cherry Blossom Extract is bursting with polyphenols and glucosides, which help to restore even skin while supporting the skin barrier.

Shatzman: How does the packaging have a minimal impact on the planet?
McCartney: The truth is that everything we create has an impact; the choice we have is how much. It’s our responsibility to minimize this as much as possible, and, as an industry to be honest and transparent about it. We have worked with an external eco-design partner to minimize our impact and scrutinize every stage of the product lifecycle. This includes banning ingredients whose production or extraction process is considered to be polluting, minimizing the number of virgin materials, developing recyclable packaging and utilizing a unique refill. We’ve also maximized sea freight for transcontinental transportation. By shipping instead of flying products to the US, the carbon footprint of Stella is lowered by over a third.

Also, as we will borrow from nature, we want to give back. Nearly 80% of the Peatlands that cover Scotland’s land area are in a degraded state. We have partnered with Wetlands International to fund restoration programs dedicating a percentage of our net sales to the restoration of Stella protected zones.

Shatzman: Why was Scotland your muse for Stella by Stella McCartney, and particularly for the High Cliff scent?
McCartney: Scotland has always been a source of inspiration for me. As children growing up on our farm in Scotland, my siblings and I learned to smell nature, hear her, learn from her and most importantly respect her. For this launch, I worked with Francis Kurkdjian to create a scent that was inspired by the scent of Scotland in April. I love this scent! We had rounds of tests across two years to test the sensorial quality. Francis really understood the vision and considered our principle of sustainability when designing it. He developed a signature fragrance in harmony with skin and the planet that uses 89.6% natural-origin ingredients. It’s suitable for all skin types and tones, even the most sensitive ones.